High in the Cartizze hills of Valdobbiadene is Bisol, one of the most famous prosecco producers. Daniela, our guide, explained that the family have been in the village of Santo Stefano de Valdobbiadene since the 16th Century, the winery was founded in 1875 to make grappa, and in 1899 Desiderio Bisol started making prosecco and the family became hugely influential in the development of prosecco’s local, national and international reputation.
We were relieved to escape the high 30’s and humidity outside, and tasted some lovely wines in the cool cellar, with its cobbled floor made from pebbles from the Piave river.
Here we learnt more about the DOCG area of Valdobbiadene, with its 43 ‘Rive’ areas, each with its special character reflecting its topography (all steep, see photos), and in particular the amazing Cartizze hills, where land will now only be sold for €2 million/hectare. While the prosecco DOC generally allows 18,000kg grapes to be harvested/hectare, in the Rives it’s 13,000kg/ha and the Cartizze hill 12,000kg/ha – the lower yields and indication of how much harder the vines have to work to produce the grapes, and therefore how much more interesting the wine they make will be. So special are the grapes in the Cartizze hills that it takes three passes to harvest – selecting the ripest bunches at each. Bunches are cryo-macerated for 14 hours before being pressed, and may be fermented in oak barrels or stainless steel at either 18degrees C or much lower. Some may be stirred during fermentation.
We tasted a superb range of proseccos, that demonstrated the increasing quality from the Crede DOCG, through two Rives – Guia and Campea, and finally two Cartizze wines, the last made by the traditional method (ie that used in champagne). During our tasting we had a long discussion on the nomenclature attached to different levels of residual sugar in the wines. For another day.
Daniela explained that Glera, the grape that must make up 85% of any prosecco wine, is not best suited to the traditional method of secondary fermentation in bottle (its aromatic, floral characters are better suited to the Martinotti method of bulk fermentation to produce the dissolved bubbles of CO2), but this was an interesting curiosity. They also make a Pinot Bianco/Chardonna blend through the traditional method, in much bigger quantities.
From Bisol it was a 2 minute coach drive or a 15 minute walk to the Salis restaurant, so three of us arrived somewhat more ‘glowing’ than others. The views from the restaurant, and a very fine lunch of venison carpaccio, a sublime risotto, beef and a fruit mousse, compensated. Just an ice cream for me (and some prosecco by the river) in Bassano that evening.